You might have fond childhood memories of lazy summer weekends on your family’s old boat ― or you might just love boating as an adult. Whatever your inspiration, it is natural to want to enjoy boating trips with your kids. However, taking your kids on the water isn’t as easy as grab-and-go. Here are 10 ways to prepare for a boating trip with little ones in tow.
10 Tips on How to Have a Successful Boating Trip With Your Little Ones
Step 1: Get a Family-Friendly Boat
Just because you have a boat doesn’t mean you are ready to go out on the water with your kids. For the safety of your little ones, you absolutely must have a sound and reliable vessel with plenty of storage space. Though you might love your sailboat, it contains too many hazards to allow clumsy little ones on board. You should consider donating your old vessel to a worthy cause and purchasing a more stable boat, like a cabin cruiser or a cuddy cabin, instead.
Step 2: Have Proper Safety Gear
At the very least, the Coast Guard mandates you have a whistle or bell, lights, a fire extinguisher, and personal flotation devices (PFDs) for every passenger so you will be safe on the water. However, when you have kids on board, you should go above and beyond to ensure everyone’s safety. You should also have a complete first aid kit, extra flotation devices, and a waterproof location beacon in case the worst happens.
Step 3: Excite
Though you know boating to be supremely fun, your kids probably have no experiences to get them excited for a boating trip. Fortunately, there are plenty of movies and books to inform and thrill them. You might watch “Pirates of the Caribbean” or read “Treasure Island” to engage their imaginations. However, you might avoid stories including shipwrecks or other scary on-board events, which could put little ones off.
Step 4: Educate
There is much to learn before stepping on a boat. Enrolling your little ones in boating school ― and perhaps taking a class or two yourself ― will keep everyone safer when you are on the water. Additionally, you must be certain your kids are strong swimmers before they come near the water, so a swimming course may be necessary.
Step 5: Engage
A universal truth of parenting is kids will get bored. Fortunately, there are plenty of responsibilities on a boat to keep little ones busy during your trip. You can teach them to use important equipment, like the navigation or radio, or you can simpler tasks, such as acting as lookout or “helping” you steer. Such duties build character and confidence. Of course, you should also bring boat-appropriate activities, like fishing rods or inner tubes, for when responsibility inevitably gets boring.
Step 6: Chart a Course
There is nothing worse for kids than spontaneity. Before you weigh anchor, you should have a specific course and destination in mind. Moreover, you should inform friends and family of your planned journey so they have information for the authorities should the worst occur while you are on the water.
Step 7: Enlist Help
If you are a single parent, you will definitely need another set of grown-up hands during your boating trip. One adult cannot manage the boat and the little ones at once, so having a friend or fellow parent on board will keep kids safer and happier for the duration of the trip.
Step 8: Bring Snacks
No one understands the importance of snack time more than a parent. You probably already have a few of your kids’ favorite healthful snacks packed away. However, you shouldn’t forget that you need to eat, too, especially when you are expending calories all day on your boat. You can bring anything you want ― except alcoholic treats ― to keep you full and focused on board. Just in case, you should also bring some kid-appropriate sea sickness remedies, like ginger ale or peppermints, so your carefully planned snacks don’t end up all over the deck.
Step 9: Pack a Change of Clothing
Boating is a wet activity, and damp clothes can make kids excessively cold incredibly fast. Having a warm, dry set of clothes goes a long way to preventing hypothermia. You should also have a large, dry blanket to wrap around your little ones when they start to shiver and shake.
Step 10: Make Memories
Though it might seem that a boating trip with your little ones is more trouble than its worth, the truth is boating is unendingly rewarding, and you will never regret taking your kids on the water. Kids will recall their boating excursions for the rest of their lives, and you can aid their memories with pictures from waterproof cameras. As long as everyone is having fun, your boating trip will be a success.